Thursday, January 24, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Terence Bayler, 83. Who? He's the guy who said, "A Samaritan? This is supposed to be a Jewish section" and "Well, obviously it's not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products." Also played The Bloody Baron in Potter, and was in an excellent episode of Upstairs, Downstairs, among other things.

1. Mark Blumenthal surveys what we know about the bully pulpit -- absolute must-read.

2. Gershom Gorenberg, sounding almost optimistic, on the Israeli elections.

3. The only way to deal with Republicans these days sometimes seems to be developing "why don't they just" lines. Kevin Drum has a solid one.

4. The latest from John Sides and Lynn Vavreck's The Gamble.

5. And a funny from Dan Amira (vaguely security theater related, so it's sort of politics, I suppose). Here's a question for what may be a slow news day: how do you rank Rob Reiner's first five movies? I'm pretty sure I'd put Harry Met Sally last...I could see a case for Tap, Sure Thing, or Princess Bride as the top one, and Stand By Me is awful good, too.


  1. Blessed are the cheesemakers!

  2. Tangential to the Blumenthal piece: I was unable during the last question round several weeks back to persuade Jonathan to do the work I'm too lazy to do, and round up recent gay marriage opinion polls to see if Obama's endorsement had moved the needle, especially among African-Americans.

    FWIW, I think this issue among African-Americans and Obama's endorsement constitutes the best case scenario for the effectiveness of the bully pulpit. If it doesn't work in this case, then the bully pulpit doesn't work in most any other case other than the exceptions Blumenthal notes, and as part of the general background societal discourse.

    1. Brian,
      I'll go with not working in this case. Polling report:

      NBC shows about 1 point of polarization (stronger support and opposition), which of course is WELL within sampling variation and in line with existing trends.

      USA Today/Gallup has support up 3 points, but that's coming off of a couple of low samples. If you graph their data, where it is now is perfectly in line with the last 5 years of change.

      CBS has gay marriage up 5....but since July, which itself was 2 months after Obama.

      Wash Post has no movement.

      The real expert on this is Pat Egan at NYU, but my quick glance at polling report says "nope."

    2. Thanks Matt. I think it's still a little unclear whether there could be an effect, especially because I expect that if there is, it's a change of elite opinion among African-Americans that could take a little while to have broad effect on the African American community, maybe between 6 months and two years. Not much showing up in the data about broader public opinion, though.

  3. As a rock fan it would be hard for me to not put Tap on top. I'm amazed at how many jokes there are per line. It's almost too much. I find something I missed every time I watch it.

    Then I'd go with Princess Bride. I'm not sure from there but I agree about Harry Met Sally last. It has its moments but both characters get annoying.

    On the Drum post,I have an uncle who is a Republican and I make him mad when we talk politics because it's just too easy to destroy Republican logic now and days. Not that I would agree with a logically consistent party that pushed for genuine small 'c' conservative principles. But there's a way to make those arguments in a reasonable/logical manner. They just don't come close and that's kind of sad.

  4. Do you think it's likely the new districts in Virginia will survive DOJ review?

  5. I agree that When Harry Met Sally is probably the weakest of that set. I'd put Spinal Tap at the top. Its cultural impact cannot be overstated. It's a movie whose lines and gags are still quoted by a lot of people, many of whom have probably never seen the entire movie. I take great pleasure in introducing my research methods students to it each year.

  6. Senate "reform" is edging closer to being a done deal. Talk about toothless.....

  7. That is such a tough call. All those movies came out when I was in junior high or high school, they are all iconic to me, and I still to this day quote liberally from all 5 of them.


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